SanDisk Sansa e280 (8GB)

With a huge features list, simple design and a whole lot of expandable storage space, the Sansa e280 screams "Take me on, wimpy iPod Nano".

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Anything tagged with the phrase "world's biggest" tends to be worthy of fascination for the average Australian -- think of the hordes of visitors that flock to the Big Merino and the Big Banana. When SanDisk's Sansa e280 was announced in August, it garnered a lot of attention for being the flash MP3 player with the world's biggest capacity. A formidable threat to the original iPod Nano, the 8GB e280 looked impressive for its list of features, memory expansion slot and black-and-neon-blue design.

Since then, Apple has grabbed the spotlight with the launch of the second-generation Nano players, also available in up to 8GB capacities. But, on paper at least, the e280 still has the edge in terms of specifications.

The e280 is the latest in SanDisk's Sansa e200 series, which created a stir with an anti-iPod marketing campaign that portrayed owners of the little white player as mindless sheep and monkeys. Although the wannabe-rebel advertising seemed a bit try-hard to us, we stopped complaining when we reviewed the 2GB e250. A feature-packed model with a simple, elegant design, the player impressed us with its sharp-looking video, simple drag-and-drop software interface and attractive price.

The e280 looks identical to the e250, with an iPod-esque vertical orientation, mechanical backlit scroll wheel and glossy black casing. The back of the player has a brushed bronze finish, a metal we've been seeing a lot of lately in phone models like Sony Ericsson's Walkman range. Also on the back are four little screws that hold the back-plate in place. These tiny bits of metal provide hope to those who have been burned by faulty iPod batteries, as they mean that the battery can be replaced without needing to trek to a service centre.

On the right side of the e280 is a MicroSD card slot, which allows for an additional 2GB storage. A flash player with 10GB of memory overall -- not too shabby. The left side features a dedicated recording button for capturing voice and FM radio, and the top of the e280 houses the headphone socket, hold switch and a pinhole-sized microphone. On the bottom is the proprietary port for USB connection and charging.

When we reviewed the e250, we mentioned that the grooves of the scroll wheel "feel a tad icky to the thumb". Nothing's changed with the e280; while rotating the glowing blue jog dial isn't exactly arduous, it's not quite the smooth experience of spinning your digits around the Nano's touch-sensitive scroller. The four buttons on the outside of the wheel -- play/pause, forward, reverse and menu -- are also too small and too close to the jog dial. Not a prohibitive design issue, but when you've been spoiled by Apple's simple iPod layouts, you become picky.

In terms of features, SanDisk has gone all-out for the e200 series. All players in the range sport voice and FM radio recording, photo and video playback, and that much-appreciated ability to expand overall memory by up to 2GB.

Of course, it's mainly about the music. The e280 supports WMA and MP3 formats, and tunes can be transferred using Windows Media Player or via simple drag-and-drop. SanDisk's software allows you to convert photo and video files into player-friendly format (the alphabet of supported file types includes JPEG, TIFF, PNG, BMP and GIF, AVI, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPG, MPEG-4 (AVI), DAT, ASF, MOV, and WMV).

We found navigating menus on the e280 to be fast and simple, with no manual-reading required. The graphic-based main menu -- which has options for music, radio, photos, video, voice and settings -- was attractive and a breeze to scroll through. Pressing the bottom button during music or radio playback will also bring up a context sensitive options menu, while pressing the on/off button will switch you right back to the main menu (pressing it again will send you back to the screen you were originally in). Using the scroll wheel and its surrounding buttons is generally easy, although we did at times find the outer buttons to be a little small and too close to the wheel itself for comfort.

Despite SanDisk being better known for its memory products than for audio fidelity, the sound quality on the Sansa e280 is rather good. Most listeners shouldn't have any complaints -- the music we pumped through the e280 was crisp, featured decent bass and was free from distortion. Radio signals were also good and reception was strong. Recorded radio doesn't fare so well -- the Sansa player downgrades audio quality of the recorded signal. Those who like to set their own equaliser settings will be a little disappointed, however, as the e280 player only has preset settings (such as rock, pop, dance, hip hop and more) rather than user adjustable ones.

Video looks surprisingly good on the e280, although the player has certain limitations which prevent it from being a completely compelling portable video solution. Video automatically defaults to a widescreen format, which means you have to hold the Sansa on its side to view. The video conversion process to get movies onto the Sansa automatically breaks large movie files down into more manageable chunks for player to handle. For example, a half hour video may be broken into three files on the player. Playback suffers as a result, as there's a noticeable five to 10 second gap between switching files.

The dedicated record button on side is excellent feature -- press it and takes you directly to voice recording. This functionality, coupled with the fact that voice recordings are generally of high quality, makes the Sansa e280 a great impromptu voice recorder.

The e280 is available now for the cannily crafted price of AU$379 -- one dollar cheaper than the 8GB iPod Nano. Take that, Apple.

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yods posted a review   

they have these for $118 at dick smith now. Bargain!


kimmy_jayne posted a review   

yeah i agree it was a great mp4 player 4 me from yr5 to yr8 if your not willing to go for the ipods. it never broke down but after a while i wished it did so i could upgrade to an ipod 3rd generation. so i jus keep it in a drawer as a spare


j-rok posted a review   

The Good:sleek design
1.8 inche screen
metal back plate

The Bad:****ty buttons
if u drop it its finished
can only charge off the computer unless u hav a chargin dock

i love the sandick sansa but i also have a ipod nano 3rd generation and i find the sansa copies it lot but its still a good mp3 player for a kid around 12 to 14


Shannon posted a review   

The Good:The fact that I can download songs.
Has a FM radio
put pictures on it.

The Bad:2 days later. it froze. now it won't work. $150 down the drain.

I loved it when I first got it. aka Christmas. 07.


jimmy posted a review   

Absolutely the worst player i have ever used


Hello posted a review   

Yes this mp3 is the best (mp3) buy i have made. For those who need help with the 'loading image failed' issue, go to:

It'll help you out a lot.


wes posted a review   

The Good:rockbox
sd support

The Bad:rockbox is not perfect

nice device jst waitin for the price 2 drop


XDAMM posted a review   

The Good:-Long battery life
-Sleek, light desing
-It doesen't scratch so easily, i never use any kind of protection for it, it's always in my pocket
-Sounds great
-Easy to use
-The scroll wheel is more accurate than the ipod's.

The Bad:-My crappy Pc doesen't recognice it, i have to use my dad's laptop for managing my media ???

I have to say i love this mp3, i've had for about 3 months for now, i have the 8 GB Version, and it's awesome, i like it way more than the ipod, the scroll wheel is better than the ipod's touch wheel, because the sansa's is more accurate, and the sansa loads the menus and songs lists faster than the ipod, it sounds great too, but the factory default earphones are not soo good, you should buy some good earphone, it sounds way better.


jack posted a review   

does anyone know if you can delete the music the was originaly on the player before you bought it

A Non-'Eeee!' mouse

A Non-'Eeee!' mouse posted a review   

The Good:- it's not an iPod
- attractive
- reliable (I treat it pretty carefully, keeping it in its pouch all the time)
- surprisingly clear images for a small screen

The Bad:- some of the menu design is not userfriendly, eg you can't fforward or rewind tracks, recorded voice or radio, when the FF or REW button could have been used for this, so if you have a long track, you're stuck listening to it from the start each time (at least I can't find a way of FF or REWing it.
- returning from the song details screen to the song list screen seems to be harder than it should be. If the back & forward buttons were used for ff and rew, maybe the up button could be used for Return to previous screen
- I find the volume isn't very loud, even with the Loud/Normal preferences setting set to loud. Maybe I'm just using cheap earphones
- single recharge/data transfer cable.
a. I was tempted to buy more than one of these because without this you can't recharge or change content. I'm not sure if it's a standard interface (ie whether I could get a similar cable if Sansa decided they didn't want to manufacture it any more)
b. I'm careful not to get any crap in the socket or to bend the pins in the cable when inserting in the socket - there's a lot of pins in a very small space

Have never used an iPod, and wouldn't want to due to the amount of media exposure it's given ("you VILL buy an iPod!").

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User Reviews / Comments  SanDisk Sansa e280 (8GB)

  • yods



    "they have these for $118 at dick smith now. Bargain!"

  • kimmy_jayne



    "yeah i agree it was a great mp4 player 4 me from yr5 to yr8 if your not willing to go for the ipods. it never broke down but after a while i wished it did so i could upgrade to an ipod 3rd genera..."

  • j-rok



    "i love the sandick sansa but i also have a ipod nano 3rd generation and i find the sansa copies it lot but its still a good mp3 player for a kid around 12 to 14 "

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